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Russia didn’t decide the 2016 election. Facebook did


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Russia didn’t decide the 2016 election. Facebook did

By Niall Ferguson   NOVEMBER 07, 2017

Cast your mind back a year, to Nov. 7, 2016. Be honest: Who did you think would win the presidency of the United States?

Twelve months ago, I was in a tiny minority amongst commentators in thinking Trump would win. On the widely read Daily Kos website, for example, Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency stood at 90 percent. According to “The Upshot” in The New York Times, the number was 85 percent. Betfair said 79 percent. Best of all was the Princeton Election Consortium, which wrote, on Nov. 6, two days before the election: “Whether [Clinton’s] Presidential win probability is 91 percent or 99 percent, it is basically settled.”

 Why were the professionals so wrong about last year’s election? After 12 months of thinking about this, my conclusion is that it was because they had not read Jürgen Habermas’s seminal book, “The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere,” published in 1962. Habermas was writing about the 18th and 19th centuries, but his insight was a universally applicable one. Often, historical changes in attitudes, behavior, and politics are rooted in changes in the structure of the public sphere itself       :snip: 

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